Friday, 22 June 2018

NZ to TONGA - Day 9 - Souvenir of Minerva - in the fridge!


We have been sailing all day under the grey skies left over from last night's trough. Winds were forecast to gust up to 30 kts, so we were glad to be at anchor. I don't think we saw that much wind, but we certainly saw rain that came on all at once, as if someone had opened a faucet over the boat. We had closed all the hatches before sleeping, but we leapt up to close the windows, which we had left open for a little ventilation. This was the big driver for our stopover at Minerva, as it is nice to be at anchor if there is going to be a big blow. As it turned out, the trough didn't affect us as much as it did some other areas, so we just had a nice rest.

We woke in time to listen to Gulf Harbour Radio, a volunteer-run weather service that is broadcast on YouTube and HF radio out of NZ for folks travelling in the South Pacific. As ever, we were grateful for David's detailed analysis, not only of the weather we could expect, but also the factors driving it (over and above the computer weather models). I was a little surprised to hear that there were currently 40 kts of wind and 5m seas off NZ, where we had had such a benign passage last week: this is exactly why we waited so patiently for a gap in the heavy weather to head north!

By 0830, we were weighing anchor and heading towards the pass. We weren't even through to the deep water when we had a fish on one of our lures (the same one which seems to have caught all our fish this passage). I took the helm, and Max landed what we believe to be a Bigeye Tuna. We were pretty excited because we haven't had a Bigeye since the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and they have delicious meat (four big bags, which will probably do us for eight meals). It weighed in at just over 30 lbs. Just after lunch, we hooked our second fish of the day, a smaller Bonita (another type of Tuna). Our fridge is pretty full, but I can always make room for more fish!

I loved our downwind leg out of NZ, as we were in the lee of the shore. Leaving Minerva, we entered straight into a kind of mixed sea, with swell coming from more than one direction. One we got away from the reef, we headed downwind and poled out our genoa, but it seemed pretty rolly, especially after the relative calmness of Minerva (where we only needed our sea legs a few times per day: when the water poured in over the reef at high tide, it was a bit like being back at sea, but otherwise it was calm and flat). The seas steadied out as the day wore on.

We were back into our watch rotation before lunch time, and Max and Victoria capably sailed the boat all afternoon, gybing the main as necessary to maintain our course, and ably handling windspeeds into the low 20s. I was half-awake in the saloon (having given up my usual spot on the aft bunk to Johnathan and Benjamin, who were feeling rather flat but playing well together) and I really enjoyed listening to them work together, exclaiming as the speed over ground went over 9 kts at times :)

Everyone had their sea legs by dinner time, so we put the 'lazy lasagne' into the oven, and there wasn't much of it left to put back into the fridge at the end of the evening!

We are now officially into the tropics, and the air is noticeably milder: the breeze actually feels a little warm as it wafts through the boat, and this is the first evening since we left that I haven't been totally bundled up with layers of fleece, jackets, and blankets in the cockpit (although I am still wearing two layers of leggings and wool socks! Tigers don't change their stipes that fast...) What a nice change!

On that note, I will wish our Northern Hemisphere family and friends a happy summer solstice - here's hoping that you also have warmer temperatures in your future!

Love to all,
At 2018-06-06 12:52 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 22°39.27'S 177°57.02'W

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